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Health authorities reduce contact tracing


Because of the sharp increase in Coronavirus infections, Berlin's health departments are further reducing contact tracing.

Stronger prioritization due to high case numbers

"The high number of cases has resulted in an even stronger prioritization," the health councillor of Charlottenburg- Wilmersdorf, Detlef Wagner, stated to the German Press Agency on Wednesday (Jan. 19, 2022). He explained that the health departments of the twelve districts had already agreed on this. In the future, the authorities want to focus more on people from vulnerable groups or on special events such as Coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes when tracing contacts.

Wagner pointed out that health departments had already reduced Coronavirus contact tracing months ago - not least because of staff shortages. "We have not been able to track all the contacts since October 2021," he said, describing the situation in his district, which is similar in other districts. Now, he said, the number of infections is increasing sharply because of the Omicron variant. In Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf alone, around 70 employees of the health department recently faced more than 1,000 reported Coronavirus cases per day.

Giffey calls for unified nationwide requirements for contact tracing

Wagner added that practice shows that most infected people go into isolation on their own: "The principle of personal responsibility works well." Nonetheless, he said, health department staff continue to make an effort to examine cases on an individual basis. Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) had called for new rules on contact tracing on Tuesday, stating that it must be clarified at which points contact tracing is still useful in order to help health authorities to work more purposefully. Giffey called for uniform nationwide guidelines in this regard and announced that she would address the issue at the next Conference of Minister Presidents (MPK) next Monday (Jan. 24).

Case-by-case reviews can lead to different decisions

Meanwhile, Berliners have voiced complaints that the new rules approved by the federal and state governments for the isolation of infected persons and the quarantine of contacts are being handled differently in some districts. This is causing uncertainty among parents and daycare centers, for example, when it comes to the question of how long children have to stay at home after a Coronavirus infection.

District councillor Wagner said that different procedures at the district health deparments were legally possible within the framework of individual case assessment. Health offices could not do less, but in certain cases certainly more than the legislation allows for. In this sense, schools and daycare centers could also act differently within the scope of their house rights. The new rules, which have been in effect in Berlin since last Friday, are intended to shorten quarantine and isolation times or even to avoid quarantine in the case of people who have already received their booster vaccination, for example.

Coronavirus incidence in Berlin over 1000

The Coronavirus is spreading in Berlin as fast as never before. For the past seven days, health offices reported 1055.1 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, as the health administration announced on Wednesday. This is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that the so-called seven-day incidence has reached four digits. A week ago, it had still been at 856.4. In a comparison of the German states, only in Bremen has a higher incidence (1295.6) than Berlin. At the district level, six Berlin districts are among the ten with the highest incidence nationwide, led by Berlin-Mitte with an incidence of 1797.5.

Publication date: 25 June 2024
Last updated: 20 January 2022

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